Hart backs Luton chief Jones to become a top manager

Luton Town's backroom staff celebrate promotion
Luton Town's backroom staff celebrate promotion

Hatters boss Nathan Jones has all the attributes to become a top, top manager according to his assistant Paul Hart.

The vastly experienced number two is in a good position to judge too, having himself been in charge of clubs such as Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth and QPR during his lengthy career in the game.

He’s slightly more measured now than he was even 12 months ago, so he’s going in the right direction as I see it to be a top manager.

Paul Hart

When Hart was academy director at Charlton, he appointed Jones as U21 development coach in 2012, with the former left back then moving to Brighton’s coaching staff a year later, before being appointed as Luton chief back in January 2016.

On how he has taken to life as the main man, Hart said: “It’s a different role, he was allowed to flourish at Charlton.

“He picked the right club, he had other offers which weren’t quite right, they allowed him to develop there and his skill-set improved by being there.

“This is a whole different ball game as he’s the leader of the pack.

“When everyone’s after you and at you, you can have all your mates sat behind you, there’s only one person getting the stick and he’s coped reasonably well with it.

“I’ve looked at him in the last two years since I’ve been here and seen changes.

“There has been more of a calmness and a slightly more analytic mind on the touchline, because he’s slightly more measured now than he was even 12 months ago, so he’s going in the right direction as I see it to be a top manager.

“I work next to him, so you see warts and all and he’s definitely got the attention to detail, little bits and bobs make up the big picture and with his passion for it.

“I don’t think anyone would call him a top manager yet, but with the promotion and we’ll see how we go next year, then he might start getting labelled, as he’s got it all there.”

Hart was quick to praise the manner in which Luton have won promotion this year, earning huge plaudits for the style of football played in hammering 94 goals during their League Two campaign, netting an a massive 110 in total.

He continued: “To play the way we play, where it’s quite stressful if you’re looking at it from a managerial position, but we’ve never faltered from that.

“He hasn’t faltered from his desire to play football, fast, attacking football and we’re on a knife-edge at times, but ultimately I think you get your rewards if you believe and we have done.

“He’s a very good coach, his preparation, his attention to detail and coupled with our recruitment policy, where I think we’ve had to let players go to fund certain things, we’ve recruited very well.

“There should be a lot of credit given to Mick Harford and the manager in that role, as you look at some of the players who are playing for us now, will certainly be able to grace the division up, maybe even a division above that.”

Although Hart had been in charge of Jones during their time at the Valley, he was in no doubt as to what their roles were at Kenilworth Road, saying: “I have an opinion and it’s not always the same one,

“We don’t agree on everything and I’m here predominantly for him, I add value in other areas, we don’t always see eye to eye, but we have an agreement, when I came here in this position, that I would not hide.

“Whilst I don’t, he has to develop as a person and as a manager, so has to make mistakes to improve I think.

“Certain things, our beliefs are the same, our desire to play football the way we play are exactly the same.

“You have to remember that I employed him at Charlton, around 2012, as an U21 coach, and he blew me away with his presentation for the job and the way he came across.

“He didn’t disappoint me in that role as U21 coach, and we had an honest relationship there and that’s still it.

“It’s trust and honesty, he’s a very talented person, who is very definitely the boss, and that has to be that way.”

When asked just what he leans on Hart for the most, the boss himself said: “His advice, as he’s been through quite a lot of things and not just for me, but around the place and off the field.

“He’s around the players and he speaks to them differently to what I do, and he sees different things to what I do.

“We obviously sing from the same hymn sheet, but he’s got a license to go and to lift players or to get in amongst them when they need it, because he’s a jovial character when he wants to be.

“He’s vital really, because he’s different to what I am, he sees different stuff.

“We have the same goal and Joaquin (Gomez) is developing and learning. He’s the most enthusiastic coach, we’ve got to put the reins on him sometimes, but we’ve got a good blend on what we have and Jared (Roberts-Smith) too, I can’t speak more highly of him.”

On the achievement of finally leading Luton back to League One this season, after the crushing agony of missing out last term due to that play-off semi-final defeat against Blackpool, Hart continued: “When you take the club and what’s happened to it, the way they were only a relatively short time ago, it was important, especially after last year, that was a real disappointment, that was a massive disappointment.

“It took us a while to deal with that, because we felt we probably should have seen it off, so it’s special.

“I think everyone feels that within the football club, all the smiling faces, this club has got great staff that work at Kenilworth Road, who are absolutely behind everything that we do.

“This is the focal point, the team, but there’s always what comes up behind and I think if you take a good feeling with you, from everybody that works there, it pushes you towards, it’s a club effort to get there.”

Jones himself agreed with the last point, adding: “Every single member of the club from the cleaners, they create an environment and a culture there that’s conducive to winning football matches and producing good players, and we’ve done that.

“Everyone, Peter Kemp, Gary Sweet, Kevan Platt, everyone has worked hard.”